Youth Councils - Local Government
Do you want to make something better in your community and you don’t know where to start? Youth councils are a great way for young people to affect change in their communities. If you want to have input into decisions about issues in your community, you can participate in youth councils to make your voice heard. If you are looking to create a community that encourages youth to become involved or you are a young person looking for an opportunity to make a difference, read on to find out more.
On this page:
What youth councils are up to?
Now, more than ever community leaders are realising the positive connection between involving youth in community activities and the increase in overall community vitality and engagement. Youth bring new energy and ideas to standard issues and concerns, often with a unique perspective as to how best to tackle challenges and opportunities.
A youth council is a formal group or board of young people that provides representation or a voice for youth in the community. Councils facilitate the involvement of young people in local governance and decision-making.
Youth councils can consist of 10 to 12 participants or more in larger communities. Keep in mind that it is always a good idea to work towards recruiting extra members as people are busy and may not always be able to make each meeting. The recruitment of dedicated youth members is the most critical factor to the success of a youth council.
Participation on a youth council is less likely to be successful if it is all work and no play. Do not underestimate the importance of fun. Adding in fun elements like team-building games and ice-breaking activities for new members also encourages members to establish a collaborative environment where everyone is free to comment and voice their concerns. They will feel more engaged and appreciated.
Youth councils make decisions and set directions for promoting the social, cultural, environmental and economic well-being of the community.
The participation of young people includes:
- making submissions to your council on matters of interest or concern to young people
- making a submission to government on an issue affecting youth in your community
- creating a petition to the council or government
- speaking at a youth council meeting
- speaking at a council meeting.
If you want to make a submission and need some tips check out the Aotearoa Youth Voices Toolkit: “Stand up and be heard”. This has lots of useful information and practical tips to get your views and ideas across.
How can you get involved?
Communities are realising that young people are one of their most valuable assets. There are groups of young people getting together all over the country as part of independent and local youth councils. If you are keen to get involved in making your city, town or area better for young people, then get in touch with your local council.
If you have a youth council in your community, you could find out:
- when their next open meeting is and attend it
- if there are any consultations with young people in your community and help out
- when youth council elections are held become a Youth Councillor
- if you are registered to vote and if you are old enough consider becoming a City Councillor
If you don't have a youth council in your community, you could:
- find out if the council is thinking about creating one and offer to help out
- talk to other young people in your community about the idea of having a youth council
- write a letter or speak to someone on the council about setting up a youth council.
Check the youth councils links below for more information about how you can have your say.
At a national level, you can attend Youth Parliament 2016 to see what is like to be a young MP for two days. Find out more about Youth Parliament 2016.
Youth councils support
Local government is made up of territorial local authorities (district and city councils) and regional councils. The Ministry of Youth Development supports youth councils across the country by providing resources and toolkits on project planning, decision-making, leadership and how to run a group. MYD also contracts for some training to enable young people to develop skills and experience useful to them as representatives of other young people.
The Ministry of Youth Development also partners with territorial local authorities through the Youth development Partnership Fund.
For more information go to Young people and funding panels.
Youth councils links
Here are links to some of the youth councils from around New Zealand. If you know of a youth council that we haven't featured please let us know.
If you have any questions email: email@example.com or freephone: 0508 367 693
Real story - Central Otago District Council
© Central Otago District Council
Central Otago District Council
Central Otago’s District Council has benefitted from a Youth Development Partnership grant to assist the expansion of youth services in Alexandra, Clyde and Omakau. In partnership with the Alexandra Youth Trust Central Otago’s funding is being used to develop and deliver youth leadership training including Maori Youth leadership, Youth Forum Development and Training for Young People and to ensure young people are engaged in their communities as well as helping them succeed in whatever they set out to accomplish”.
The council consider young people as key stakeholders in the big decisions affecting their community especially our youth community.
Because of the community’s willingness to encourage the youth perspective, a lot of value has been added across the district. Our youth are being empowered to make their own decisions and take on leadership not only of their own lives but in giving back to others in their community also.
The Alexandra Youth Forum is a vibrant group of young people from year 11 - 13 that are an active voice for the youth in the Alexandra and District area. These young people have put on a number of different events already this year that promote drug, alcohol and smoke free fun for the youth in Alexandra. These events have included a quiz night which involved both parents and students and saw 35 members of the community both young and old attend.
If you want to share your Youth Council story, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org